Apr 17, 2016

Carlos Sainz ends P9 on a thrilling Chinese Grand Prix

The Spaniard completes "a million overtakings" but doesn't capitalize its full potential

Shanghai, April 17th 2016.- Carlos Sainz finished ninth in the Chinese Grand Prix, a race full of excitement, overtaking maneuvers and changes of position for the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver, who leaves the country with two more points and a positive vibe even though circumstances didn't help him maximize his result.

Carlos started from eighth place on the grid but thanks to a brilliant start had already taken fourth place by the exit of Turn 1, where he survived the incidents that involved some of the cars in the front. By the end of the first lap he was sixth and by then he chose to focus on stabilizing his race pace.

His strategy was compromised by the Safety Car, that made an entrance on the fourth lap after a puncture in Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull. Action was high up and down the Pit-Lane, where drivers that had started on supersofts changed them for another compound. Carlos went for a set of softs, but due to the stop he lost many places to drivers that already used them since the start.

Plus, when he came to the Pit-Lane he was stuck behind Nico Hülkenberg's Force India, whose team was already changing tyres for Sergio Pérez. The German was penalized, but Carlos lost valuable seconds. He exited the Pit-Lane on P11, just in front of Sebastian Vettel, and then went on to complete 15 laps in the points before stopping again for another set of softs in which he was able to be in fifth place, in front of drivers like Lewis Hamilton or Kimi Räikkönen.

As expected, on his fourth and last stint the team went for the most conservative option brought by Pirelli to this race: the medium P-Zero. Max Verstappen was approaching from behind on a slightly different strategy, as he was using softs by that time. Carlos eased the way for him. The Spaniard then got the most out of his STR11 to overtook on track Sergio Pérez and Valtteri Bottas, the latter on the very last lap after a thrilling fight. Ninth place for Carlos, who has scored four points so far in the first three rounds of the calendar.

Circumstances were not good for Carlos this time, as he couldn't transform one of his most solid performances in Formula 1 into a greater amount of points. Nevertheless, there's still the satisfaction of knowing the pace he showed in key moments, as he explained when he stepped out of the STR11.

"I'm happy with what we've done, although we didn't get the reward we deserved. There were many overtakings, I must have done millions of them on different tyres, that's how three-stop races are. It's true that balance was not optimum throughout the weekend, but it was good. Race was exciting, very chaotic since the first lap. I didn't really know where I was, many pit-stops and crashes. In the end, the mediums lasted longer than we thought, so it was not bad".

Carlos also talked about Nico Hülkenberg's strange maneuver on the Pit-Lane entrance, which costed him plenty of time and generated a dangerous situation. "Hülkenberg stopped all of a sudden and created a traffic jam, a danger that should not have occurred. It must be investigated because these things can't happen. A five second penalty is not enough, risk was greater than the penalty".

“A lot going on, as we expected. An exciting race but the feeling is that we could have done better than P9. If you take into account the 7 or 8 seconds we lost during the first pit-stop with the Force India that locked us all... then I had another issue with the Force India, then Fernando almost crashed into me from behind, then I had to wait for another three seconds to get the green light when I was in the box… If you take those seconds we lost, I think we would have done a much better race, but still did a good recovery and managed to finish on the points, which is what the team asked me to do”.

“When you are behind him (Nico Hülkenberg at the Pit-Lane entrance), you don’t know if he is going to stop. Then all of a sudden he locks his brakes and you may ran into him, so you can hit him and have two cars spinning around on the Pit-Lane. I wanted to pass him on the grass but then Sebastian Vettel came. A lot of circumstances happened in the Pit-Lane, it should be a safe place, not a place to race and play chaos. Here the Pit-Lane is long, and if the Pit-Lane limiter line is here, he started to block much earlier. That was when chaos started, then more in the Pit-Lane. In the lap behind the Safety-Car I was overtaking, then the Safety-Car came. I was going to pass him, but then I saw Vettel in my mirrors. It was a very good start of the race, running P6 right in that group. We were quicker than the Force Indias. We knew since Friday that we had the pace, but to lose so much time in the Pit-Lane and having to overtake the McLarens, a Haas, a Manor was a problem for me”.

"It was catch-up, but from my personal point of view I’m quite happy. I think I did the maximum amount of overtakings. I enjoyed a lot. We have to analyze if the soft tyre towards the end was a better option, I couldn’t attack as much as I wanted in that last stint. We were especially strong on supersofts. We knew it from the start of the race. It was working very well and I was about to overtake the two Force Indias, then the Safety-Car came, we went to the box and the Force Indias slowed down. Something more was achievable with our race pace, but this is Formula 1. It was a chaotic race. I had fun and brought back the points, which is what team asked me”.

“Sometimes things happen. P8 and P9 mean six points more for the team. We aren’t entirely happy, but not disappointed. We beat the Haas, who are ahead of us in the Championship. Williams has more or less the same points, if not a little bit more. We are there in that fight and we must keep fighting because we know we’ll become slower as the year goes on. Today we couldn’t do much more than this”.

Next round on the calendar is the Russian Grand Prix, which will be held in Sochi on May 1st. A place that brings bittersweet memories for Carlos, as it was there where he suffered the most serious crash of his professional career, though he asked the doctors to leave the hospital and in a matter of a few hours he raced in the Grand Prix and made a great recovery that was only affected by an issue on the brakes a few laps from the end.